With the Blackhawks' playoff odds nearly at zero, I thought we'd take a moment to address some issues that will affect the team's near and distant future.
First up: What will it take to extend the contracts of Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome?
1. DeBrincat and Strome
Both players will be restricted free agents at the end of next season, so everyone has plenty of time to agree upon extensions.
But the sooner the better for the Hawks when it comes to DeBrincat, whose hockey IQ is off the charts and whose shot is as quick and accurate as anyone in the league.
There are many factors that go into contract negotiations — length, money, signing bonus percentage, no-movement clauses, etc. — and the potential for labor unrest after next season is looming large.
Will owners will be able to buy out bad contracts in the future? Will the 2020-21 season be affected if — as many expect — the players opt out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement in September? How much is the salary cap expected to rise in the coming years?
There's a lot going on.